Monthly Archives: December 2010

Waste-Free Gift Giving with Good Karma

Alright, alright, I realize my Christmas post is way too late to help you with your gifting quandaries, and I know lots of folks are moving away from formal gifting during the holidays, but I did want to share some of my favorite charitable gift ideas from the past couple years. Whose to say they can’t be used for birthdays or weddings too?

Since we started the Clean Bin Project, we have been blessed to receive a number of charitable donations as gifts.  They fit right in with our mandate as they added nothing to our trash cans, but lots to our happiness.

  1. Sponsor an animal. Friends of ours sponsored a cat at the local SPCA instead of buying many small gifts for friends.  We have a (beautiful and talented but way too loud) cat of our own, so we don’t want another one, but the thought of helping out an animal in need is right up our alley.  It costs a lot to feed and care for shelter animals, so sponsoring a cat was just the ticket.
  2. Support families in another country. My aunt and uncle provided seeds for 10 families in Africa to grow their own food.  Having your own food garden is near and dear to my heart, so this was a great gift.  They supplemented it with a couple of seed packets for me to grow in my own garden.  My other aunt and uncle got us a goat.  Well, not us, but they bought a goat for someone on our behalf. It will provide milk and food for an entire family and is more of a “hand up” than a “hand out.” Alternatively, you could try an organization like Kiva that gives small loans to entrepreneurs.
  3. Support a local initiative or program. In the past the company I work for has donated to Union Gospel Mission instead of mailing out corporate cards. There are any number of great community charities to support. Check out a site like Charity Navigator to find one that makes you happy.
  4. Let the recipient decide. My brother found a great website called Canada Helps where you can choose your own charity.  We just had to log on with our gift certificate number, pick a charity of our choice, and the gift certificate is applied to that charity.  It’s a great way to let the gift receiver take part, and choose an option that means something to them.

A charitable gift donation is always appropriate.  It’s waste-free, and it’s good karma. If you know any other great charities for gift giving, feel free to add them below.

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Making A Move – Eco Style

Grant and I have lived in the same awesome 100 year old duplex in Vancouver for 7 years. We’ve been lucky to have  a variety of great roommates at various times as well as a landlord who lets us have free reign in the garden, but at the beginning of the month, we decided to make a move into a place of our own.

Because it was just a couple blocks away and because we seem to talk a lot about living sustainably these days, we figured we’d forgo the traditional moving van and make it a DIY people powered deal.

I borrowed a huge cargo bicycle trailer from the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (you guys are awesome!), brought out my own little trailer, and invited friends to come over with dollies, wagons, and bicycles.

Moving this way was basically free. I borrowed a bunch of rubbermaid containers from a friend (thanks Becky) and found boxes at the wine store. Grant bought some beer, my Dad made some chili, my sister baked bread, and my mom made muffins to thank the 15 superheros that came out.

I think we all had a pretty good time. Thanks to everyone who helped out!!!

Waste related details to follow. For now, here are some pics.

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Filed under Around the house, DIY

The Great Unwashed

There has been a lot of hygiene talk out there lately.

After the New York Times article entitled The Great Unwashed, hit the streets, people started popping up all over the place admitting that they hadn’t washed their hair in years, or conversely, expressing disgust that there are people out there who don’t shower everyday.

I actually had people sending me articles on it. (Which either meant that they identified it as something I do and sent it to me out of support thinking I’d be interested, or that they think I’m really dirty and were sending me a not to subtle hint that they figured out my personal routine. . ..)

Either way, this is my official stance on personal hygiene. Wash if you’re dirty.

It seems like common sense, but I can’t believe how many people think that not showering every day is filthy. We wash people; we just don’t shower. It’s called a washcloth and a bar of soap, and no I do not sweat at my desk job (I don’t even really sweat on the 4.6km mostly flat bike ride to the office). Why would I want to waste over 100 litres of water at the end of the day?

Although this project started out all about landfill waste, you can tell we’ll started to expand our interests a bit. Wasting water or energy is just that: waste. And when you consider that hot water can use up to 25% of your household energy budget, cutting your shower length or frequency can save some pretty big time and money. Why wouldn’t you try it?

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Filed under Hygiene